Hezekiah was the best of the good kings of Judah. “Not one of the kings of Judah was like him, either before him or after him. He remained faithful to the Lord and did not turn from following him but kept the commands the Lord had commanded Moses. The Lord was with him, and wherever he went he prospered” (2 Kings 18:3–7, CSB).
When “Hezekiah rested with his ancestors... his son Manasseh became king in his place” (2 Kings 20:21, CSB). Hezekiah was the best... Manasseh was arguably the worst.
“He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, imitating the detestable practices of the nations that the Lord had dispossessed before the Israelites. He rebuilt the high places that his father Hezekiah had destroyed and reestablished the altars for Baal. He made an Asherah, as King Ahab of Israel had done; he also bowed in worship to all the stars in the sky and served them. He built altars in the Lord’s temple, where the Lord had said, ‘Jerusalem is where I will put my name.’ He built altars to all the stars in the sky in both courtyards of the Lord’s temple. He sacrificed his son in the fire, practiced witchcraft and divination, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did a huge amount of evil in the Lord’s sight, angering him” (2 Kings 21:2–6, CSB).
In a sadistic display of the worst kind of evil, Manasseh “burned his sons as an offering in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom” (2 Chronicles 33:6, ESV). (Sadly, we must admit that America is “burning” its sons and daughters on the altar of abortion... sixty million since Row v. Wade in 1973.)
Though Jerusalem wouldn’t fall to the Babylonians for more than fifty years, God declared his intentions to punish Manasseh’s wickedness. “I will abandon the remnant of my inheritance and hand them over to their enemies. They will become plunder and spoil to all their enemies, because they have done what is evil in my sight and have angered me” (2 Kings 21:14-15, CSB). Thanks Manasseh!
How is it possible that Manasseh is listed in the genealogy of Jesus? The worst-of-the-worst is in the blood-line of the Holy One, the Sinless Son of God. Why?
Paul offers a helpful hint. “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:15–16, ESV).
God’s grace is most gloriously displayed in guys like Saul of Tarsus and Manasseh, King of Judah... and me.
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!